Harold Holmes remembers the better days of his childhood playing baseball games on a newly built diamond for Sunset Homes.
Children played in a safe environment, and families watched out for one another. Those days have changed but the memories remain, he said.
Holmes and several hundred other people will gather Saturday at Cherry Tree Crossing, originally known as Sunset Homes.
They will reunite and reminisce about their former homes as the deadline for their demolition approaches.
In October, the Augusta Housing Authority announced plans to replace Cherry Tree Crossing with a modern apartment complex. Residents could move as early as this fall, followed by demolition of the buildings.
“When we get together every year about this time, we go back and reminisce about things today you’re missing,” said Holmes, who moved into Sunset Homes in 1950, then just 1 year old. He lived there for 22 years.
The annual reunion is always held on Father’s Day weekend, Holmes said, to remind current families living in Cherry Tree of the importance of a male role model. The event’s organizers emphasize nonviolence and community involvement at the reunion.
The reunion will begin at 10 a.m. and include a free cookout and visits from the Richmond County sheriff’s office and fire department.
“Sunset – it opened doors for a lot of people,” Holmes said. “Everybody was everyone’s mama. Everyone was everyone’s sister and cousin.”
Sunset Homes was built in 1939 as one of the nation’s first government housing projects under the Housing Act of 1937. It was renamed Cherry Tree Crossing in 1993 after a $12 million makeover in an effort to improve the complex’s public image and instill more pride in its residents, according to The Augusta Chronicle archives.
In its beginning, Sunset Homes was a working-class neighborhood nestled between 15th and Hunter streets and the envy of Augusta’s surrounding low-income housing.
After the 1970 Augusta race riot, the housing complex’s reputation gradually slipped, with increasing drug activity in the 1980s worsening its image.
When the housing authority made the decision to tear down the units, former Sunset Homes tenants made a plan to preserve the baseball diamond and old playground that was once the gathering place for the neighborhood.
“Even when the bricks are gone, we hope to get some and make it part of Sunset Memorial Park,” Holmes said.